When you think of the term company culture, what’s the first image that springs to mind? The concept means different things to different people, but many of us associate company culture with Google and its amazing, innovative work environments; at the very least, we tend to think of company culture as something that’s very expensive, perhaps above the resource level of small businesses and startups. Of course, this is absurd: All companies have culture whether they know it or not, and you don’t have to be insanely affluent in order to cultivate a good culture.
That’s why I was pleased to see a recent article at Entrepreneur.com, which provides some tips for building a positive company culture on a tight budget. “Company culture doesn’t have to be all about massages, breakfast burritos and swag,” the article suggests. “Culture definitely matters, but its success is based more on how people feel about working for the company than ritzy perks. Real culture is personal, and that starts with the leader.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
In fact, the article makes the astute point that an investment in real, proactive culture building can save your company big bucks in the long run. This is especially true when it comes to the hiring process. Getting the right culture means having the right team, made up of team members who get your vision and have a good organizational fit.
This is usually not something you can train for; your employees need to be good cultural fits from the second they’re hired. Thus, if you take the initiative to hire for culture, you’re essentially building your company culture with each new team member. If you don’t, then you’re just going to have to go back and hire replacements, sooner or later—which will cost your company money and hassle.
The Entrepreneur.com article also advocates for community services, which is an excellent way for companies to promote their values. In other words, you don’t have to make a Bill Gates-sized donation to humanitarian groups in order to have a culture of altruism. Arranging a Saturday morning for your employees to volunteer somewhere can make a world of difference.
“Give time off for volunteering, and organize civic event participation as a team,” the article argues. “Group volunteering at cleanup days or a Habitat for Humanity building event lets people get to know one another better and forge memories, all without costing the business a cent.”
A final takeaway from the article: Your company can be fun without it scaling Google-like levels of extravagance; that is, you don’t need an employee gym and biking trails and in-house massage artists in order for your employees to enjoy what they do. Something as simple as a new employee welcome lunch, or cupcakes on people’s birthdays, can allow your team members to feel like they’re valued, and that they’re encouraged to enjoy themselves at the office a bit—and none of that really costs much, in the scheme of things.
The kind of company culture you have, of course, is up to you; the point here is simply to remind you that you don’t have to break the bank to get the culture you want.